Oil painting Blue Dragonfly

Blue dragonfly Oil painting 16″×20″

Years ago when I lived in Georgia with my family, we made a trip to Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. It is not a national park which means it has no various attractions. They have a simple boat tour and all you see is wild untouched wetland. I love the view. There were tons of waterlily in water and Spanish moss on branches. There were tons of dragonflies in blue, orange and red. My only problem was the weather, cloudy and dark. All photos I took felt gray without sunlight.

It takes me years to figure out how to paint something out of those gray and gloomy photos. I pick the one with a dragonfly on waterlily. The original photo is showing as follow.

My reference photo for oil painting “Blue dragonfly”

I like this photo. The reflection of grass makes an interesting value contrast. However, I don’t want to paint as is. If I did then my palette would be filled with gray, grayish green, greenish brown and so on. Then one day I found a boats painting by Ivailo Nikolov.

Boats by Ivailo Nikolov

It is so stunning that I couldn’t move my eyes away. After studying this painting for sometime, I believe that the reason I love it is the color combination. When I look back to my dragonfly photo, I finally have an idea. Why not swap the entire color palette with something else? So I keep the major value contrast in my reference photo but paint the waterlily in blue, water surface in yellow/orange, grass in teal/burnt sienna and dragonfly in pinkish purple.

It works. 😀

This means that the idea of swapping color palette works. I now gain more freedom in terms of using color. I can dig through my old photos to find something that I overlook because of bad lighting. Hooray~!

Hope you enjoy this post.

Thank you.

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My paintings are an outlet to express the imagination I have inside my head that I can not put into words. After trying many mediums, I always find myself coming back to paint and brushes. In my current artistic practice, I use oil paint and mainly create portraits of mythical creatures and animals transfixed in the shifting colours of seascapes and landscapes. There is a natural spirit and magic to these creatures and their energy draws me in. Choosing to paint these creatures as real living wildlife rather than abstractions, I use bold and vivid colours to express the imaginary intertwined with reality, finding magic between the seams. Using a saturated colour palette, I create bold and striking imagery, contrasted between foreground and background, subject and landscape, and light and darkness. Weaving their bodies and the surface of the landscape into each other through organic forms and flowing brush strokes, I find beauty, strength and innocence in these creatures that reflect my inner world.